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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Holy Spirit and Us

Don Stewart :: Should We Pray Directly to the Holy Spirit?

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Should We Pray Directly to the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit and Us – Question 22

Is it proper for believers to pray directly to the Holy Spirit without mentioning God the Father or Jesus Christ? The answer is no. Believers are not to speak directly, or pray, to the Holy Spirit. There are a number of reasons as to why this is so. They can be summed up as follows.

The Holy Spirit Does Not Speak of Himself

For one thing, it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to speak of Jesus Christ. He does not speak of Himself. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit was given to remind His disciples of the things which He said.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you (John 14:26 NASB).

The Holy Spirit which was sent by the authority of God the Father was given to testify to Jesus Christ, not Himself.

In addition, we are told that He will not speak on His own initiative. Jesus said.

When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you (John 16:13, 14 HCSB).

Jesus made it clear that the Holy Spirit is His representative. He does not present His own ideas or speak on His initiative. Instead, He carries out the plan of God the Father and God the Son. This is His role among the members of the Trinity. While the Holy Spirit is fully God, His role is one of representing the wishes of the Father and the Son. Thus, while the Holy Spirit is not subordinate in nature or character to God the Father or God the Son, He is subordinate in His position.

The Holy Spirit Helps Us Pray the Right Things

Thus, the Holy Spirit is not the member of the Trinity to whom we address our prayers. We should pray to God the Father, through the Person of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the one who guides our prayers and helps us to pray the right things. Paul wrote about this to the Romans. He put it this way.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words (Romans 8:26 NLT).

The Holy Spirit helps us pray to the Father through the Son – He does not help us pray to Himself! This is the plain teaching of Scripture.

We Are Commanded to Pray in Jesus’ Name or Authority

In fact, we are commanded to pray in Jesus’ name or authority. Jesus made this clear to His disciples on the night that He was betrayed. He said.

In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf” (John 16:23-26 NIV).

It is in the authority of Jesus that we pray. We are to ask for things using Him as our access to God the Father.

There Are Direct Prayers to Jesus

We also find that people directly prayed to Jesus. Stephen the martyr was filled with the Holy Spirit as he was dying. At that time, he directed his prayer to Jesus. The Bible records what took place n this manner.

And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:59-60 ESV).

Direct prayers can be made to Jesus. Indeed, we have a biblical example of this.

There Are No Direct Prayers to the Holy Spirit

As we search the Scriptures, we find no prayers addressed directly to the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit is the indwelling presence of God in every believer, it is not necessary to pray to Him. Indeed, He lives within us.

In fact, there is only one possible place in Scripture where the Holy Spirit was directly addressed. This is found in the writings of Ezekiel. We read.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live” (Ezekiel 37:9 NIV).

The word translated “breath” in this verse is the same word for “Spirit.” Thus, it is seemingly possible to argue that Ezekiel is directly addressing the Spirit of God. However, this is unlikely. Indeed, Bible translations uniformly render this word as “breath” or “wind” in this context.

Thus, while this highly symbolic passage may refer to the Spirit of God, it is not at all certain. Consequently, we find no clear passage in Scripture where the Spirit of God is directly addressed.

We Should Pray to God

It is probably best to address our prayers to God without worrying about distinguishing between the various members of the Trinity. God understands what we mean. He is more concerned with the attitude of our heart than the exact terms we use in addressing Him.

However, if we realize that the Holy Spirit is the one helping us pray to the Father through Jesus, we should not direct any specific prayer to Him.

Summary – Question 22
Should We Pray Directly to the Holy Spirit?

The Bible commands believers to pray to God. He is the One who answers our prayers. However, it does not command Christians to pray directly to the Holy Spirit. There are a number of reasons as to why this is so.

First, the Holy Spirit is the representative of Jesus Christ now that Jesus is no longer here upon the earth. It is, therefore, His job to further the plan of Jesus – not Himself. While the Holy Spirit is fully God His role among the Trinity is subordinate to that of the Father and the [Son]1. He was not sent to glorify Himself but rather to glorify Jesus.

The Bible does say that the Spirit of God directs our prayers. He reveals to us what we are to pray. Thus, His job is to cause us to pray for the right things.

Furthermore, the Scripture explicitly states that we are to pray to ask God the Father for things in the name of Jesus. In fact, it is Jesus who taught us that. The Holy Spirit is not directly addressed.

We discover that this was the practice of the New Testament believers. While we find prayers directed to God the Father and to Jesus, there are no instances in Scripture where prayers are directed to the Holy Spirit. This is to be expected. He is the one who helps us to pray.

Also, the Holy Spirit is how God’s presence dwells in each believer. Since He lives within us it is not necessary to pray to Him.

Thus, our prayers should be directed to God the Father by the authority of God the Son through God the Holy Spirit.

1. Edited by BLB [An error was made in the original document incorrectly stating the "Holy Spirit".]

How Does the Holy Spirit Work with Spiritual Uncertainty? ← Prior Section
Should Our Experience with the Holy Spirit Be the Same as Jesus? Next Section →
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